Author's Notes: So, yeah, CRACK pairing, ahoy. But really, they're so pretty together I couldn't help myself. Warnings for limey content, spoilers for Soul Society arc, and Byakuya with his kimono undone.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Nothing at all.

Abandon the Towers

There is a fall of cherry blossoms in her mind when she comes.

It's always that way when she's with him, as if she's touching more than a just a part of him, maybe all of him. Pressing against her, he's heavy and the steps of the tower are digging into her spine but she can't bring herself to care. The feel of his warm skin beneath her fingers, the silk of his hair against her shoulder, the restrained power in his arms as he keeps himself from collapsing on her - all of it takes her breath away.

Not to mention the fact she's just had spectacular sex on the steps of the Shrine of Penitence.

An apt place, she decides, for what they are doing.

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She stops in her tracks when she notices him, half hidden by the scattered trees on the slope. She can't imagine what he's doing there by himself. It's close to midnight and the lights of Seireitei are going out one by one, a long day having come to end. Kuchiki Byakuya, however, shows no signs of tiring. He's standing in the middle of the clearing facing her direction though his head is tilted down, eyes closed. He's missing his Kenseikan and his dark hair falls around his shoulders, drifting slightly in the breeze. His zanpakutou is in his right hand, the blade raised directly in front of his face. Matsumoto has never seen anyone stand so still.

She's also never seen a Kuchiki noble with their kimono undone.

His skin is pale in the moonlight and there's a shine of sweat that makes not-so-innocent thoughts cross her mind. She really shouldn't be standing there watching him. She's got paperwork to do and her captain will throw out all the sake if she doesn't-

Byakuya's low voice reaches her in her hiding place and makes shivers run down her spine. She's frozen to the spot.

"Scatter," he says.

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Matsumoto is spiraling down when Byakuya finally allows himself to fall against her. She smiles when he does not move slightly to the side to avoid crushing her with his full weight. He had done that the first time, rolling off her with a smooth, quick movement that said he was either very chivalrous, or he was used to a smaller, more delicate partner. Having known it was the latter, she'd simply rolled with him, looking down into his surprised face with a knowing grin.

"I'm a big girl," she'd told him. "You can't hurt me that easily."

He never moved away from her again.

Lifting a hand, she rests it against his head as their breathing quiets and their heartbeats slow together. She loves this feeling of being so close to him, not a whisper of air between their bodies. It's the moment she recalls most when he passes her in the halls without a word, never lifting his eyes.

You can't hurt me that easily.

Matsumoto is a very good liar.

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The air fills with petals.

It's his shikai release, she thinks, and as she watches the cloud of cherry blossoms move at his mental direction, she can't help but think it's the most beautiful thing she's ever seen. It's effortless and hypnotizing and she almost forgets those are swords he's dancing with.

Then one flies by her cheek and she feels a drop of blood run down her skin, startling her.

In the clearing, Byakuya's hand drops and his cobalt eyes open, looking right at her.

"Matsumoto Rangiku," he says as she steps out from behind the tree, slightly embarrassed at having been caught spying. And on a captain, no less. She doesn't know whether to kneel or make a run for it.

The sight of his half-clad chest is also doing funny things to her stomach.

"Forgive me, I was just passing by and…" She makes a careless motion with one hand. She finishes, "I was curious".

"I trust you're satisfied." He moves as if he's about to turn away and Matsumoto takes a step forward almost without realizing it. Her fingers brush his sleeve.

"Actually…"

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She dresses herself quickly, almost haphazardly, before turning to dress him. She teases him a little about nobles accustomed to having someone do everything for them, but really she simply doesn't want anyone else to see him this way. She slides his kimono over his shoulders and lets her hands skim as much skin as possible on her way. Sometimes, only sometimes, he touches her hair as she does so, an elegant hand half-lifted to golden tresses as he watches her in the dark.

It's the most intimate moment of her life.

When they are presentable, they leave the tower together. Byakuya is surprisingly unrepentant about their trysts. He doesn't concern himself with deception. Matsumoto, however, does and she does not kiss him good-bye in the shadows.

She has not kissed him since that first time, and she's certain she'll never do so again, not until they can overcome their ghosts.

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The kiss is sweet at first and she stands on her tiptoes to reach him, her fingers in his hair. Her heart is trembling with the exhilaration of stealing it from him and knowing he is too proud to do anything about it. Afterwards, he will simply gaze at her as if she's done something foolish and then he'll leave and never speak of it again. Knowing this, she puts a hand lightly against his bare chest to steady herself, feeling the muscles in his abdomen react to her touch. It doesn't matter. He's going to forget her after this, he's going to-

His hands come up to grip her elbows as he bends his neck to kiss her back.

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They never speak of Gin and his betrayal, or Hisana and her death. They never speak at all unless it's after dark when the lights are out and the only thing covering them is their empty clothes. Then and only then does she hear the rumble of his voice, the smooth cadence of words in her ears. Sometimes she asks him questions just to listen to him talk, to close her eyes and feel the vibration in his chest. Other times, she is content with his silvery silences. They say a lot if she knows how to listen.

She's learning. She's learning.

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She arches her back and her nails dig into his shoulders as they near their climax. She has her long legs wrapped around him, her hair spread out like a fan as he moves above her. Her hands clench around fistfuls of fabric and she realizes she's crumbling his discarded haori. She can't think about it, however, as the tension in her body builds and all that's in her mind is the feel of him.

He's a considerate lover and surprisingly gentle at times, drawing blushes from her when she is sure she has already passed the virginal shyness stage. There is a look in his eyes, though, that make her feel as if he is admiring her. It is so unexpected that she almost feels vulnerable. Those dark eyes of his, they see more than he says, and there are things she isn't ready to show him. Not yet.

She distracts him by moaning his name.

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She looks for him now, in that clearing, and there are times when it's empty and times when he is waiting for her. She sees his bankai release there for the first time and it's as terrifyingly beautiful as she knew it would be. Everything about him is.

It's also where she decides to let him see her, and Byakuya looks with those eyes of his and knows. He is the first to speak and she loves him a little for that.

"I could not save her." There is a timbre in his voice she's never heard before. Matsumoto swallows the lump in her throat.

"I could not make him stay."

There is a silence and then he turns his head slightly, his gaze on the horizon.

"No more towers," he says, with a regal air that is almost an order. Matsumoto's heart melts.

"No more towers," she murmurs in agreement.

He turns to leave and she doesn't stop him.

She'll see him tonight.

The End.